Emerald Holding Inc., the parent of Outdoor Retailer, Surf Expo, and numerous other trade shows, faced brutal headwinds over the past year as Covid-driven cancellations sent revenue and profits tumbling.
But the company didn’t stand pat during the pandemic. Emerald used its lighter-than-usual calendar to pursue a strategic acquisition and then bring to market a tool designed to help the companies that attend its myriad events.
Emerald’s Elastic Suite division on Tuesday announced the launch of Digital Market, a B2B e-commerce transactional platform that offers year-round access to product sourcing and ordering across a broad range of brands.
Digital Market connects brands—especially small and mid-sized ones—with outdoor retailers, providing a “more streamlined and collaborative buyer-supplier experience at Emerald’s in-person events, including Outdoor Retailer and Surf Expo,” the company said.
“Digital Market complements your Outdoor Retailer show experience by providing exhibitors, reps, and retailers with technology that takes relationships beyond the show floor and supports the wholesale purchasing process year-round,” said Marisa Nicholson, senior vice president and show director of Outdoor Retailer. “It transforms the ways brands and buyers interact. Brands can present curated product collections, and buyers can strategically source and order new products, leading to more efficient appointments and meaningful conversations when at the show. This winning combination makes it easier to stay connected and opens new doors.”
Emerald said Digital Market was built upon its “proven, industry-leading Elastic Suite enterprise B2B merchandising solution,” and that it was “designed for easy adoption by brands and retailers of all sizes across market segments.”
The company added that its Elastic Suite and Digital Market offerings “are fully integrated and utilize the same core technology, data systems, and client support resources. The result is a streamlined digital wholesale merchandising and purchasing process for retailers across brands through a single platform.”
Current outdoor clients of the company’s B2B platforms include The North Face, Patagonia, K2, Rip Curl, Active Brands, Volcom, Shimano, Scott Sports, Boardriders, O’Neill, and Burton.
The new tool is the direct result of Emerald’s $34 million acquisition of PlumRiver LLC in January. (The company paid $30 million for the business, plus $4.4 million in stock and other considerations of up to $13 million.) PlumRiver provided SaaS technology that “streamlines the wholesale buying process for both brands and retail buyers.”
“Our acquisition of PlumRiver will enhance the meaningful steps that Emerald has taken to expand its digital presence this past year,” Hervé Sedky, Emerald’s president and CEO, said at the time of the acquisition.
Added David Doft, Emerald’s CFO, “Our acquisition of PlumRiver is a key step in our plan to bring buyers and sellers together in a digital environment, year-round, and provide them with a platform where they can transact. PlumRiver is expected to meaningfully enhance our digital initiatives and is just one of the exciting investment opportunities that we have in front of us as we work to expand our business in the year ahead.”
The new service comes at a critical time for Emerald, which posted a significant revenue dip and income loss in Q4 of 2020. Sales fell 72.8 percent to $12.2 million and the company posted a loss of $58.1 million. However, the company entered 2021 on decent financial footing, having ended last year with $295.3 million in cash and full availability of its $150 million revolving credit facility.
Emerald will report its first-quarter earnings on April 30. The company, whose stock has been flat for most of the first quarter, is now ramping up its live event schedule as vaccination rates across the U.S. increase. On August 10, the company will stage its first in-person Outdoor Retailer since June 2019.